(From Janet Shamlian, NBC News Correspondent)
On a recent episode of NBC's "The Office", Dwight* committed quite the social faux pas. At a cocktail party, he asked his host about the square footage of her home.
I had to laugh as I was in the midst of preparing this morning's Today Show story about money... and how questions like Dwight's* are considered bad manners in a society where we'll talk about sex before salaries. Whether it's how much we paid for our house or the size of the diamond on our finger, they are still taboo topics.
It doesn't stop us from wondering, and in the internet age... you no longer need to commit social suicide to find out. There are now websites that allow voyeurism into the world of other people's money.
We ventured out into Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood to talk with shoppers about why it continues to be such a secret subject. Many admitted they had a severe case of 'affluenza' -- a load of debt and anxiety from trying to keep pace with the finances of friends, who always seemed better off. Keeping up with the Joneses, it appears, is alive and well.